Ritual Abuse Survivors and Eating Disorders

The Trafficking Conference Videos Are Up!

On September 23, 2022, Donna Lyon, Jean Riseman, Mary Bolger, and Anneke Lucas presented at the International Conference for Human Trafficking and Social Justice.  https://www.traffickingconference.com

The presentation is titled “The Interface Between Sex Trafficking, Ritual Abuse (RA), and Mind Control (MC) Programming.” There was too much material to fit into 45 minutes, so it was split into two parts. The conference attendees were a very diverse group, including trafficking survivors (many were RA/MC survivors), law enforcement, ministers, therapists, researchers, activists, and more. They were eager to learn about RA/MC.

I wrote updates for the blog about our progress working on the presentation last spring and summer. Now you can see the finished product!

Part 1: The panelists, ranging in age from 58 to 85, were all introduced to sex trafficking by their families. Their experiences ranged from being exploited by a local group of pedophiles to global elite child sex trafficking rings. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=855pdTCJ4_s

Part 2: Panelists describe their escape and entry into healing, how their abusers attempted to maintain control, signs, and symptoms specific to their ritual abuse and mind control programming, and shared their recovery process and work for the survivor community. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4asQx4cecI

Ritual Abuse Survivors and Eating Disorders     

There have been two surveys (that I know of) looking at the prevalence of eating disorders in survivors of ritual abuse and other forms of extreme childhood trauma. Both were self-reporting and open to any survivor who wished to participate. One was conducted by Survivorship, a support organization for RA/MC survivors, and reached Survivorship members only. The other one, by the Extreme Abuse Survey, was open to all survivors of extreme abuse. 60% to 65% percent of respondents in the two surveys said they had an eating disorder, while less than 20% reported being alcoholic and/or drug-addicted. 

It’s not difficult to understand why eating disorders are so common among survivors. We have been made to eat and drink things that never were intended to be put in a human mouth. Food or water was withheld as punishment or to make us more susceptible to programming. And sometimes, rarely, we have been rewarded with edible food, usually junk food. 

We also may have been programmed to binge to conceal a pregnancy. Or programmed to starve ourselves to death if we are of no further use to the abusers. That’s safe for the perpetrators – it’s a murder that never will be discovered.

It’s a miracle that 100% of RA/MC survivors do not have severe eating disorders.

Severity runs on a spectrum. For me, it’s pretty mild, thank goodness. I do eat to soothe myself, but I don’t binge and purge, and I don’t overeat often enough to gain weight rapidly. I can’t remember comfort-eating in childhood, but then I had no control over what I ate. Looking back, I see that I picked it up in high school, along with yo-yo dieting. I did diet, hoping it would solve all my social problems if I lost five or ten pounds, but I was too lazy to chart my food intake or count calories. I guess you could say I dabbled in anorexia but never got hooked.

But I have gotten addicted to certain things. I count it as an addiction if a) I make sure I always have some in the house, b) I eat it daily, c) I eat more than I want to (just one more bite!), d) I minimize the problem, and d) I am ashamed of my behavior.

My weaknesses are sugar and salt, preferably in the form of potato chips. Right now, I have a serious sugar addiction, thanks to Ben and Jerry’s Phish Food. I know I can stop or cut down on it…maybe next week. 

My other current food problem is trying to eat six small meals a day rather than my usual three meals. (This is a blood pressure management technique. It’s supposed to prevent drops in blood pressure after meals.) I got so bored eating all day long that I skipped meals and started losing weight without wanting to.

I figured out how to handle this. I sometimes cook a big batch of something that would taste good cold as well as hot and spread it out over three or four days. Sometimes I serve myself a regular meal and split it in half. (When my blood pressure is high, I go back to my old pattern of three normal-sized meals a day.) There is no extra preparation time and not much more eating time, so it’s not quite as boring. Although my weight is now steady, I am angry at being out of control and at having to think so much about food.

In my mind, this problem doesn’t fall under the umbrella of disordered eating. It belongs in the sub-category of self-care – all the things that are good for me but are a pain to do faithfully. More importantly, it stirs up all the dormant childhood feelings about food, the distorted beliefs, the sense of helplessness.

I don’t feel, therefore, like I am talking from the point of view of somebody who has had the experience. I can relate to some parts of living with an eating disorder, but not most. I can still validate that, yes, it is one more thing caused by your abuse. And yes, it can be life-threatening, become all-consuming, increase your shame, anxiety, and depression, affect your relations with others, and fill you with despair.

I understand where it comes from and why it is so very hard to deal with. I admire all of you who fight for a healthier relationship with food. It is a great way to give the perps the finger!

Resource List

The first two entries are my other blog articles on eating disorders. Both titles are clickable.

Eating Disorders: (an overview: facts, research, and statistics)

Healthy Eating for an RA Survivor (HA!):

Eating Disorders in Men and Boys

An excellent page, not all dry statistics. NEDA also has articles on athletes, the Jewish community, LGBTQ+, those with disabilities, people of color, and older people. 


Resources for People with Eating Disorders

Here is a comprehensive list of resources that includes free online therapist-led and peer support groups, help lines, funding for treatment, and help with insurance companies. There is also a step-by-step guide to finding a therapist, making phone calls, etc.  



4 thoughts on “Ritual Abuse Survivors and Eating Disorders

  1. Just watched the first part of the conference. Wow. So many just-below-the-surface memories, resonances and echoes within. Now to sit with all that. Thank you


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